by CNN Wire Staff
December 29, 2011
Hugo Chavez speaks
during a meeting with
his Cabinet in Caracas on December 19
Caracas, Venezuela (CNN)
A day after officials announced the
cancer diagnosis of Argentina's president, Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez wondered Wednesday if the United States could be
infecting the region's leaders with the illness.
Five current or former Latin American presidents have battled cancer
in the past few years, including Chavez himself, who claims to have
beaten an unspecified cancer.
Chavez prefaced his remarks at a military event in Caracas by
"I don't want to make any reckless
accusations," but the Venezuelan president said he was concerned
by something he finds "very, very, very strange."
"Would it be strange if (the United States) had developed a
technology to induce cancer, and for no one to know it?" he
Chavez cited the revelation this year
that the United States, between 1946 and 1948, had carried out human
experiments in Guatemala where subjects were exposed to sexually
That was 50 years ago, Chavez said, and he posited: Will it be
discovered 50 years from now that the United States was infecting
presidents with cancer?
"I don't know. I'm just putting the
thought out there," Chavez said.
Victoria Nuland, a U.S. State Department
spokeswoman, told reporters Thursday that Chavez's assertion was
"horrific and reprehensible."
The Venezuelan president, who has a firm anti-U.S. stance,
frequently hurls accusations at his political enemies, domestic and
foreign. He has repeatedly said the United States is trying to
destabilize his government.
A spokesman for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de
Kirchner said Tuesday that doctors had diagnosed her with
thyroid cancer. She is scheduled to undergo surgery next week.
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was diagnosed with
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2010.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff overcame cancer while she
was a candidate for the office, and former Brazilian President
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is undergoing treatment for throat
Chavez said his ally Fidel Castro had repeatedly warned
him to beware of what he eats, as foods are potential vehicles for
The Venezuelan leader questioned the timing of the diagnoses -
Rousseff during her campaign, and Chavez himself right before an
"I repeat: I am not accusing anyone.
I am just using my freedom to reflect and give commentary on
very strange occurrences that are hard to explain," he said.